April 7th, 2018

Tigers earn walk-off win over Brother Rice

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Tigers earn walk-off win over Brother Rice
St. X's Aric Lyons at the plate / photo by Conor Revell

St. Xavier’s baseball team hasn’t enjoyed much success against Brother Rice (Ill.) through the years and let some close ones slip through their fingertips.

The Tigers almost had a repeat, but Aric Lyons scored on a passed ball to give his team a walk-off 5-4 victory in the seventh inning over visiting Brother Rice Friday night.

“I saw that it was going to be a curveball and that it was going to be in the dirt,” Lyons said. “I said I’m not going to go on a passed ball because we have so many outs to give. I didn’t hear anything and I saw the ball go pass the catcher and saw that I could make it and I ran home.”

It’s St. X’s first victory against the Crusaders (9-3) in four tries, the two Catholic schools have played at least once every year since 2015, and each game has been decided by two runs or less.

“We’ve played them a few times where we were up late in the game and then we let it slipped away,” Porta said. “This one kind of felt the same way for a while. Give the kids credit. Trey (Sweeney) went in there and shut down the door and we answered in the bottom of the seventh and executed.

“This was good competition and great for the postseason. Now, we have been in a situation that we could face late in the season and fall back on. It was a great late season environment. The dugouts were screaming; it was about ignoring the chippiness and just playing ball.”

The Tigers (7-0) went up 3-1 in the first inning and extended its lead to 4-1 in the second, Brother Rice tied the game up at four scoring three runs in the sixth.

In the seventh, St. X loaded the bases with nobody out. Lyons reached first when the first baseman pulled his foot off the bag while receiving a throw from third. Sweeney hit an infield single, the runners moved to second and third on a Patrick Reidy balk.

Ryan Nicholson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Lyons scored the game winning run on a passed ball from Reidy when Bryce Elmore was at the plate.

“All we do if there is a passed ball is we scream, yes, yes, yes,” Porta said. “That’s what the whole dugout was screaming, yes, yes, yes. We were talking about potentially doing a lot of different things. We were talking about doing a squeeze which I’m not a big fan of with a force play at the plate. There were a lot of different things that we could have done.”

Andrew Littlefield started and pitched a gem for the Tigers, but got a no decision. The senior threw five innings and allowed one run, four hits, struck out two, and walked one.

“It was getting ahead in the count,” Littlefield said. “I would get ahead with my fastball and then I’d mix in my curveball. I also threw my changeups. I was mainly throwing strikes.”

Lyons relieved him in the sixth and ran into trouble and didn’t retire a batter. Brother Rice’s Mike Bolton was plunked and moved to third when Lyons tried to pick him off, but made a bad throw. Marquis Jackson singled Bolton home. Jack Payton doubled.

“Aric left a couple of balls up,” Porta said. “It’s just baseball. You can’t blame one thing. We were still playing clean defense for the most part. If you leave a ball up in the zone against a team like Brother Rice, they’re going to hit it and they took advantage. We just had to hold the court.”

Trey Sweeney relieved Lyons. Sam Jones hit an infield single and Jackson scored. Payton scored on Mike Hopkins sacrifice fly to tie the game up at four in the sixth.

Sweeney got a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh to setup the win.

“Honestly, I threw about 95 percent fastball,” Sweeney said. “That’s what was working at the time. I threw a few changeups but was unable to throw a strikes with that pitch.”

The Crusaders got their first run in the opening inning when Kendall Pettis started the game with a triple and scored on Jackson’s sacrifice fly.

The Tigers responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Alex Adams walked and moved to second on Lyons sacrifice bunt. Sweeney tripled scoring Adams. Cam Scheler doubled home Sweeney, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Brandon Tucker’s grounder.

“He was trying to get ahead of his fastball,” Sweeney said. “I saw one low and in the zone and that’s what I like to hit. I turned on it and the right fielder got a late jump on it.”

Lyons triple chased home Chase Patton and made it 4-1 in the second inning.

Diaz started on the hill for Brother Rice and allowed four runs, five hits, struck out two, and walked five in 4 & 2/3 innings. Reidy finished the game and allowed a run; none earned, two hits, struck out one, and walked one.

The two teams will play again at 10 a.m. Saturday weather permitting. Brother Rice will then play Simon Kenton at 12:30 p.m. and then the Tigers will host the Pioneers at 3 p.m. All games will be played at Carl and Rosemary Mueller Field. 


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